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MSC poised to overtake Maersk as world’s largest container carrier


Taking into account new orders and strong involvement in second-hand vessels, MSC is on track to soon overtake Maersk as the world’s biggest container line, according to maritime analyst Alphaliner.

“Irrespective of past developments and fleet growth, the carriers’ opposing stance on container vessel newbuilding is expected to see MSC overtake its Danish competitor and claim the global top spot some time in 2022,” Alphaliner said.

Geneva-based MSC operates a fleet of 587 containerships with a combined capacity of 3.9 million TEUs while Maersk’s 711 ships have an aggregate capacity of 4.1 million TEUs. Thus the current  capacity gap between the two carriers has narrowed to 234,000 TEUs.

MSC’s orderbook stands at nearly 660,000 TEUs, mainly consisting of ultra-large tonnage. But Maersk has only 42,000 TEUs of smaller tonnage on order.

“MSC’s pipeline could grow even further, since a number of big newbuildings are believed to be joining the MSC fleet under long-term charters that have yet to be confirmed,” Alphaliner said. “Maersk, meanwhile, is not expected to place any large orders soon.”

On a number of occasions recently, Maersk executives have said the Danish shipping giant is content to keep its fleet at around 4 million TEUs.